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What Type Of Acne Do I Have?

What Type Of Acne Do I Have?

The different types of acne can be classified under two broad categories - non inflammatory acne and inflammatory acne. Use our guide to help you choose the right skincare and treatments to clear up the type of acne you’re dealing with.

Non-Inflammatory types of acne

These are the most common types of acne that can generally be treated with a great at-home skin routine designed to target acne. Occasionally naturopathic or over the counter treatments may be required too.


A blackhead is a pore clogged with dead skin, sebum and dirt that has opened a little and been exposed to air.

Its scientific name is an ‘open comedone’ but the term blackhead comes from the fact the exposure to air turns dirt, oil and dead skin trapped in the pore black.

Blackheads can show up on any skin type but are most common for oily and combination skin types.


The main difference between blackheads and whiteheads is that a whitehead hasn’t been exposed to the air.

The pore is still blocked by the same type of build up - dead skin cells, oil, and sebum - but remains closed. Without exposure to air, it doesn’t turn black. The scientific name for a white head is a ‘closed comedone.’

How to treat blackheads and whiteheads

The key is to deal with blackheads and whiteheads before they become one of the more inflammatory types of acne. Here are a few of the ingredients you could include in your skincare routine to target the issue

  • Salicylic acid
  • Glycolic and lactic acids (gentler on the skin that salicylic acid which can be very drying)
  • Bentonite clay
  • Activated charcoal

You’ll also benefit from ingredients that deliver deep hydration to the skin, such as hyaluronic acid, and those that balance oil and heal the skin post breakout.

From the esmi Skin Minerals range we recommend:

We know it can be tempting to squeeze and dig at the pore to remove them but doing this without the proper tools will make things worse. Chances are you’ll spread the acne bacteria to other parts of your skin and also risk scarring.

If you have a serious case of blackheads or whiteheads, we suggest consulting an esthetician or dermatologist for professional extraction.

Inflammatory types of acne (mild to moderate)

The two types of acne on the lower end of the inflammatory scale are the types of pimples known as papules and pustules.

An acne papule is an inflamed blemish that looks like a red bump on the skin that can be tender to touch.

Pustules are pimples that contain pus. They appear as small white or yellow spots surrounded by a swollen reddish area which is often hard and painful to touch.

Both acne papules and acne pustules can form as the result of leaving blackheads and whiteheads untreated.

Large groups of either type of pimple may be classified as moderate or severe acne. For teens, it’s common to find papules and pustules on other areas of the body, particularly back acne.

They can also be considered hormonal acne as it’s common to have them appear during puberty, or at stages during the menstrual cycle.

How to treat acne papules and pustules

As mentioned earlier, glycolic and lactic acids are effective ingredients to remove dead skin cells and other debris. Retinoids (Vitamin A) is also a good choice - it prevents pores from clogging stopping breakouts before they even begin developing.

In addition, look for natural antibacterial ingredients in cleansers, oils, and serums that target inflammation and redness.

From the esmi Skin Minerals range we recommend:

You could also consult a professional for homeopathic remedy options. A remedy is recommended based on your unique set of symptoms, including (but not limited to) acne symptoms.

Inflammatory types of acne(severe)

Cysts and nodules are the most severe form of acne.

Cystic acne is a highly inflammatory type of acne, rooted deep beneath the skin. It presents as red, pus filled bumps that are usually painful to touch and have a high chance of scarring. This type of acne is strongly linked to hormones - your genetics can also play a role here too.

Nodules and cysts are similar in the sense that they both form deep within the skin but nodules aren’t pus filled and have no visible head.

Serious types of acne usually require professional attention. Severe acne treatment can prescription medication, homeopathic therapy, and treatments like laser therapy or extraction - in addition to a targeted skincare routine.

On the skincare front, look for products that not only target acne bacteria and inflammation but are also deeply nourishing for the skin.

Many prescription medications and treatments for severe acne are strong and can leave the skin vulnerable.

From the esmi Skin Minerals range we recommend:

Need help choosing the right products to treat acne? Book a free consultation with an esmi Skin Minerals Consultant. The team at esmi are always here to support you on your skin journey!